Arts

Comedian Craig Robinson
Gets Serious

From 'The Office' to 'Mr. Robot,' the funnyman is working on his acting chops
Craig Robinson has moved from teaching music to stand-up comedy, TV and movies. Up next: drama.

The stars! They're just like us. And just as Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally satiate our need to see a fully functional—if mundanely so—Hollywood relationship, Craig Robinson is a lot like most of us in another way: Dude watches a lot of streaming media.

"I've been watching a lot of Narcos and House of Cards," says Robinson, who first broke out big on NBC's The Office, and has also starred in films such as Hot Tub Time Machine.

"It's hard to believe that's it's not actually happening—that they are just acting," Robinson says of actors Kevin Spacey and Wagner Moura. "That's the level I want to get to."

And here is where Robinson, the star, returns to an elevated plane. Over the past decade, the Chicago-born actor and comedian has moved from playing bit parts—like a mouthy security guard in Knocked Up—to bigger roles, like Darryl Philbin in The Office.

Most recently, Robinson has been stretching his acting muscles big time, taking on the indie dramedy, Morris From America, which premiered at Sundance, and going head to head with everybody's favorite junkie hacker, Elliot Alderson.

"It was dope!" Robinson says of playing Ray, a villain on the second season of the hit USA Show, Mr. Robot. "It was intense. And it whet my appetite to do some more dramatic stuff."

While Robinson says he will never give up on comedy—proving his dedication to the craft with a string of stand-up shows at The Improv in San Jose this week—he says he has been watching TV differently than he used to.

When it comes to his favorite comedy cartoons, like Family Guy and American Dad, he says he is often thinking of how the gags were born. "What jokes were pitched that didn't make it?" he wonders. "It's an interesting way to watch."

And, when it comes to the dramas in his queue, Robinson says he's trying to figure out how to transcend the boundary between performance and real life. He is looking forward to seeing the reaction he gets for some of his forthcoming roles, which straddle the fence between comedy and drama.

Craig Robinson
Sep 23-25, $30
The Improv, San Jose


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